October 21, 1998
Contact: Rolf Johnson (360) 902-2519
Hunting opener results in mixed success
Modern firearm hunters met with varying degrees of success during the opening of deer season last weekend, according to counts from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife field check stations.
This year, like last, three-point minimum antler restrictions are in place in eastern Washington, so bucks taken tended to be adult animals.
High points for hunters include Southwest Washington, especially Vail Tree Farm east of Olympia, and some areas in the north-central part of the state, according to Rolf Johnson, WDFW deer and elk program manager.
Weekend hunting results for various regions of the state include:
- Northeast Washington: The number of hunters and their success rate were up slightly here. At the Deer Park biological sampling station, 551 hunters were checked with 87 deer, compared to last year's counts of 503 hunters with 84 deer. Over 90 percent of the deer were whitetails. In Spokane and Whitman counties a WDFW biologist checked 40 deer, compared to 29 at last year's opener. Hunters reported seeing lots of deer and hunting success was high. Because of last winter's mild weather and excellent forage this year, an unusually high number of yearling deer (18- month-olds) are three-point bucks this year.
- North Central Washington: Deer hunting was generally excellent, except in Chelan County where poor hunting conditions and depressed mule deer populations made for a slow opener. Hunters did remarkably better than last year in the rest of the area, even in Okanogan County where mule deer still are recovering from the ‘96-'97 winter. At the Chewuck biological sampling station 552 hunters were checked with 15 deer, compared to last year's count of 418 hunters with five deer. Eight of the 15 deer were mature bucks, three-and-a-half years or older. Hunters reported seeing lots of bucks, although many were small. Hunters also saw high numbers of fawns, indicating good hunting prospects for the future. In the Gardner Unit, agents checked 137 hunters with 27 bucks.
- Central Washington: Hunter turnout was the heaviest in years and success was high in Grant, Douglas and Adams counties. Results were different in Kittitas and Yakima counties, where biologists reported less hunting pressure and lower success.
- North Puget Sound: Results from a sampling station in the Snoqualmie Game Management Unit (GMU) 460 showed 487 hunters with 36 deer. There were 31 spikes and five two-point bucks.
- Southwest Washington: The area again lived up to its reputation as the top deer area of western Washington. Sampling stations at Cougar, Randle, Toutle, PeEll and Coal Creek checked 2,897 hunters with 102 deer. Last year 3,027 hunters had 103 deer. Hunters were slightly more successful in the Cascade units than those hunting west of Interstate 5. No biological survey was conducted in Klickitat County, but initial reports indicated fewer hunters and good success for those who did turn out. Vail Tree Farm proved to be one of the best hunting areas of the state again this year. Checks there showed 1,416 hunters with 154 deer. Last year there were fewer than 1,000 hunters with 127 deer.